So are these the ravings of a demagogue that ought simply to be ignored? I believe it’s important for us to have an answer to his message and not just dismiss it as the rantings of some nut. I say this because many in the Middle East agree with what he is saying. To not give an answer is to let others assume he has made a valid--and unanswerable--point.
The Jewish people weren't sent to the Middle East from Europe following World War II as Ahmadinejad suggests. The Jewish presence in the land goes back thousands of years. And there are other legitimate reasons for supporting the Jewish right to a national homeland. I can think of five.
- Let's start with the Bible. The Bible makes it clear that the land is the historic homeland of the Jewish people. God gave the title deed to Abraham's descendants through Isaac, and God never abrogated that promise. I realize some might not accept the Bible, so here are additional reasons that support Israel's right to the land.
- Let's begin by assuming legitimacy belongs to those who occupied the land first. The Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Jebusites, and other "ites" were there first...but they have disappeared from history. The Jewish people are the oldest surviving occupants of the land. If it belongs to the oldest surviving owners, then it belongs to the Jews.
- Or maybe legitimacy should be granted to the group who lived in the land for the longest period of time. The Jewish people (from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the first and second temple periods...and again since 1948) lived in the land for nearly 1,700 years. The Muslims came out of the Arabian peninsula to conquer the land, and they controlled the land for about 1,400 years. If it belongs to those who have lived their longest, then it belongs to the Jews.
- Or maybe we should give the land to those who have been the majority in the land most recently. Currently 70% of all the Jews living in the land are native-born Israelis. This is the land of their birth. In contrast, most Palestinians alive today have never set foot in the land. They were born elsewhere. So if it belongs to the largest group that was actually born there, then it belongs to the Jews.
- Or maybe we should just resort to the dictum that "possession is nine-tenth of the law." The one who ends up with the land is the presumed rightful owner. Like Abraham and the cave of Machpelah, the Jewish people gained much of the land they held prior to 1947 by purchasing it. But they gained the remaining land they now possess by fighting a series of defensive wars against armies who set out to destroy them. So if actual possession is a legitimate mark of ownership, then the land belongs to the Jews.